Gushing Media Overreactions – Warriors Edition
The Warriors beat the Heat last night and it wasn’t hard to see it coming, as they’ve been playing with confidence and the Heat could care less at this time of the year. True to that oversimplified thought process, the Heat played relaxed basketball and got sniped. They fell asleep so bad on the game’s final play that Draymond Green was allowed to easily score the game-winning bucket, which prompted all sorts of back-scratching tweets from media gushing over Mark Jackson. I’m calling it here right now – if the Warriors make the playoffs you can pretty much write in Jackson’s name for Coach of the Year, which is typically reserved for unproven coaches that ride young teams to improved records despite making stupid mistakes by the bushel. This, of course, makes him perfect for the award.
Klay Thompson was the beneficiary of the lax Heat defense as he put up 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting with five threes, seven boards, four assists, two steals, and one block. I basically dared you to move him at your own risks, and this is why. He’s a great shooter playing in an offense with guys that can find him and he has as much leash as anybody in the league. David Lee went for 22 and 13 and is playing well enough offensively that his defensive lapses are being swept under the rug.
Harrison Barnes (18 minutes, eight points, three boards) is taking a step back but he’ll eventually get another bite at the apple. As long as the Warriors are winning and Lee is scoring, it’s bad news for Carl Landry (four points, three boards, 18 minutes) because Jackson and GSW ownership can fight back some of the criticism for championing Lee. Jarrett Jack (20 points, four rebounds, four assists, two threes, one steal, 31 minutes) is showing why he needs to be on the floor and should be owned in all 12-team formats with late-round value on the year. He might slow down, but with upside in the event of a Stephen Curry ankle injury in tow there’s more than enough meat to that bone.
Draymond Green is stealing minutes from the whole bunch in his defensive stopper role, and aside from the game-winner he had seven points, seven boards, two steals, and a three in 30 minutes. He won’t get this much run every night but on nights that he does there will be some fantasy losers, which were Barnes and Landry tonight.
One thing to keep an eye on is that entering last night the Warriors had beaten teams with a combined 45 percent winning percentage, and in their much ballyhooed four-game road winning streak those teams had won just 36 percent of their games. Naturally, I’m happy about my Warriors winning and they’re playing well, but when they start playing solid competition more often things won’t be this good. I wouldn’t change my approach too much knowing that, but if trends start to emerge (such as Landry resuming his role when David Lee cools off) be ready to react.
The Heat had one guy playing defense last night, LeBron James, and when that happens it’s a recipe for failure. Dwyane Wade was a turnstile most of the night, but owners are just happy he came away from a potential concussion unscathed. He left during the second quarter after taking a shot to the dome and started the second half, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, four rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Chris Bosh played less defense than David Lee, which is saying something, but again owners don’t care when he’s posting 21 points, 13 boards and a full stat line. LeBron had 31 points and a full line to go with a shoulder injury that shouldn’t be serious, and Ray Allen hit 6-of-10 shots for 14 points, four rebounds, four assists, one three. He and Shane Battier combined for one of the ugliest last-second defensive possessions you’ll ever see, and it had nothing to do with any sort of deception by the offense. They just blew it.
The Pelicans gave the Thunder a run for their money last night, but eventually took a four-point loss. Austin Rivers started and scored 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting with two rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two threes in 38 minutes. It should tell you all you need to know about his season that this and his less spicy effort on Tuesday are causing owners to keep tabs on him. He needs to take much larger steps forward to be worth adding in most standard 8- and 9-cat formats. Al-Farouq Aminu started again with middling results, scoring eight points with six rebounds and a steal in 22 minutes. Just watch him for now until he gets his confidence back. Anthony Davis (11 points, four rebounds, one steal, one block) came off the bench and played 28 minutes, and it’s not surprising he struggled on the tail-end of the back-to-back after taking time off for his ankle injury.
Thunder beat writers grumbled about Scott Brooks’ rotations tonight and it almost cost the team a win, but what else is new? Serge Ibaka was messed with in a seven-point, six-rebound, three-block effort in 23 minutes, but we need to see more shenanigans from Brooks before we’ll get overly worried here. Now that folks have gotten a taste of what Ibaka is capable of he won’t be able to pull the rug out without facing heavier-than-normal scrutiny. Kevin Durant scored 35 points in a typical effort, Russell Westbrook had 14 points, four boards, and nine assists, and Kevin Martin completed the comeback with 17 points, six rebounds, two threes, and a steal.
Right Back on Schedule
Both Jeremy Lin and James Harden were able to play despite a pair of ankle injuries, and both were productive for owners. Harden had 31 points on 10-of-20 shooting with a full, albeit mild stat line by his standards. Lin scored 10 points with five rebounds, six assists, and one block, falling back into his pattern of versatile, mid-level lines in his 28-35 minute role.
Patrick Patterson got back in owners’ good graces with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and one three, while Omer Asik had an efficient night by his standards with nine points on 3-of-6 shooting (3-of-4 FTs), 16 rebounds, one block, and just two turnovers. Carlos Delfino hasn’t come through for owners taking the chance on him this week, scoring just two points on 1-of-5 shooting in 14 minutes. That’s the life of a streaky bench shooter. Chandler Parsons is back to doing his thing, posting 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting with eight rebounds, three assists, three treys, and one steal in the Rockets’ home win over the lowly Wizards.
Nene said before the game that he was still adjusting to playing in back-to-back games and in the last one “he couldn’t jump.” So while Emeka Okafor (19 points, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks) got hot in his return to his hometown, I’m still not too worried about Kevin Seraphin’s 18-minute, four-point, four-rebound, one-steal, one-block night. Both Nene and Okafor are prime injury risks, and I’ve always viewed Seraphin as a second-half of the year guy anyway. I’m not dropping him for Miles under any circumstance, but Ed Davis would tempt me and I could go either way. If my fantasy squad could use a shakeup or some short-term production, I’d probably opt for Davis. But any scenario taking the long-view trends toward Seraphin with Andrea Bargnani’s timetable still cloudy and Amir Johnson’s impact still looming.
John Wall will have his injured left knee examined on Friday and it will be a turning point for his season, for better or worse. Jordan Crawford (17 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three treys) and Bradley Beal (20 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals, three treys) are must-own players right now and Beal is a few good games away from being a must-start guy. Martell Webster (16 points, seven boards) might be worth a look for spot-action in deeper formats, but he has enough issues with production and staying healthy that I’m not too excited about his long-term prospects. Nene scored 13 points with nine boards, three assists, and no steals or blocks in his 23 minutes, and he needs to cross the 25-minute threshold, produce, and play in back to back games before I’m moving on him in standard 8- and 9-cat formats.
The Nuggets lost a tight one in Minnesota last night, and at 11-12 they can’t seem to get all of their pieces moving in the right direction at once. Ty Lawson hit just 6-of-15 shots but finished with 17 points, four rebounds, and 11 assists, while Andre Iguodala continued to plummet with two points on 1-of-9 shooting, five rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block. I looked at all of his misses from last night, and he looks a bit lackadaisical, a bit lethargic, and a bit unlucky all in one. My preseason concern about he and Lawson having difficulty sharing the ball isn’t evident just yet, but it’s telling that the two haven’t been able to get hot at the same time and that many on the team have struggled, in general.
Kenneth Faried bounced back from a very slow night to score 26 points with 14 rebounds and three steals. Owners should know by now not to panic. Danilo Gallinari hit 9-of-13 shots (including four treys) for 24 points and needs to do this much more to assuage owners’ fears that he’s going to be a mess. Corey Brewer scored 14 points with two threes and a block, but that’s cutting things pretty thin for owners trying to ride the wave in standard leagues. He’s not must-own material with lines like that.
Crazy Beats Consistent
The Suns squeaked out a last-second win over the Grizzlies when Goran Dragic (12 points, five rebounds, eight assists) got fairly lucky on a dribble-drive, closing the deal with 0.5 seconds left on a multi-pivoted layup. Shannon Brown needed somebody to remind him that he’s Shannon Brown as he hit just 5-of-19 terribly conceived shots for 15 points to go with seven rebounds. Give him a look while his volume is higher. Marcin Gortat made some decent plays late but the numbers still aren’t back, and he finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, and a steal in 34 minutes. I have a feeling when the ice thaws between he and Gentry we’ll see the Gortat of old, and not until then.
Jared Dudley reminded us of why folks had him ranked as a solid late round value to begin the year, scoring 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting with nine rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one three in 43 minutes. I’ve noted his slow starts a million times around here, and I have no problem taking a flier on him in 12-team formats. Markieff Morris (11 points, four rebounds, two steals, two blocks, one three) moved to the bench and played well, so Gentry brought him right back into the starting lineup at the half. It’s a mess, but Morris is worth owning with the hopes he lands on the right side of Gentry’s plans. Morris’ current counterpart, Luis Scola, struggled mightily with four points, one rebound, one steal, and one block in 13 minutes. He was humming to start the year and had recently picked things up, so holding him until we can figure out what went wrong is a decent play. Michael Beasley is so bad I’m not even going to tell you how bad he did.
The Grizzlies were predictable, though Mike Conley’s slump continued to irk owners. Conley scored seven points on 3-of-8 shooting with six assists, two steals, and a three, and I am zero percent concerned about this. Rudy Gay went for 21 and 11 with two steals and two blocks, Zach Randolph went for 18 and 10, and Marc Gasol had six blocks to go with 15 points and just two rebounds in the loss.